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101 arrested in effort to reduce violent crime in Columbus through federal prosecution

Local law enforcement agencies working with federal authorities are targeting suspects in the Columbus area to get violent offenders off the street and prosecute them in federal court.

The initiative called “Project Safe Neighborhoods” is not new, having been around since 2001, but it is being “reinvigorated” to reduce violent crime, said Charles Peeler, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.

Peeler held a news conference Monday on the steps of the federal courthouse in Columbus, where he was joined by representatives from local, state and federal agencies, including Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren.

Boren said taking the cases to federal court should result in swift prosecutions and longer prison sentences for those convicted.

“You see more expedient prosecution, and you also see mandatory sentencing,” he said of federal court. “We’re looking for the avenue that will get us the most incarcerated time.”

Peeler’s staff announced the arrests of 10 suspects who already were indicted by a federal grand jury, and Boren said local police rounded up 91 more in operations over two weekends.

“They were identified through intelligence-based policing. They were identified in high-crime areas,” Boren said. “And they were specifically targeted for their participation in violent crimes as well as possession of weapons.”

On Jan. 18 and 19, police arrested 35 suspects on 91 charges, 14 of those felonies and 77 misdemeanors, and seized four guns, the chief said.

On Thursday and Friday, officers arrested 56 people on 147 charges, 36 of those felonies and 109 of them misdemeanors, seized nine guns and chased down eight suspects who fled when police tried to stop them, Boren said.

Peeler said the operation will continue: “This is just the beginning. Those who were arrested, who are announced today, are the beginning of a sustained effort in Columbus, Georgia, and we’re not going to stop until we see a reduction in violent crime and in gun crimes.”

The suspects

Here’s a list of the suspects authorities said were indicted by a federal grand jury before their arrests:

▪ Dovorris Jordan, 31, of Columbus, is charged with being a felon with a firearm and faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

▪ Clint Walker, 35, of Columbus, is charged with possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute it, being a felon with a firearm, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime. On the meth charge he faces up to life in prison and a $10 million fine. If convicted of being a felon with a firearm, he faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and if convicted of having a firearm to further a violent crime, he faces up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine.

▪ Rodney Burke, 55, of Mauk, Ga., is charged with possessing meth with the intent to distribute it, and being a convicted felon with a firearm. Charged as an “armed career criminal,” he faces from 15 years to life in prison, and up to a $5 million fine.

▪ Reginald Miller, 27, of Columbus, is charged with being a felon with a firearm, and faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

▪ Edward Walker, 35, of Columbus, also is charged with being a felon with a firearm and faces the same penalty as Miller.

▪ Lorenzo Tatum, 32, of Columbus, is charged with being a felon with a firearm, and faces up to life in prison and a $1 million fine.

▪ Devante Patterson, 24, of Columbus, is charged with theft from a federal firearms licensee and possessing stolen guns, and faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count.

▪ Andre Hendricks, whose age and city of residence weren’t listed, was indicted for possessing cocaine base with the intent to distribute it, possessing meth with the intent to distribute it, possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute it, possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute it, being a felon with a firearm, and having a firearm to further a crime of violence. He faces up to life in prison and a $1 million fine.

▪ Lorenzo Crawford, 35, of Columbus, is charged with being a felon with a firearm, possessing marijuana, and possessing meth. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

▪ Watkins Brown, 24, of Columbus, is charged with being a felon with a firearm and possessing a stolen gun, and faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Besides Columbus police and the U.S. attorney’s office, agencies involved in the operation included the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Probation Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office for the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit, and the Georgia Department of Community Supervision.

The assistant U.S. attorneys who will prosecute the suspects are Michael Solis, Crawford Seals and Melvin Hyde Jr.

The names of the 91 suspects Columbus police arrested over the weekend and in January were not immediately available.

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